Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Opinion: Jamie McFadden

Opinion: Jamie McFadden

For ten days from Sunday 22nd September tractors are travelling from Invercargill to Auckland.

What motivates two southern farmers, Bryce McKenzie, and Laurie Paterson, to drive tractors the length of New Zealand under the banner Drive 4 Change? They recognize that the election in October is the most important in their lifetime, not just for rural New Zealand, but for all New Zealanders.

At stake is not just our farming heritage but our natural environment, iconic landscapes, and way of life. Do we want a country gobbled up by corporates and overseas investors, covered in pines, and overrun with pests and weeds as farmers are forced off the land?

Or do we want a country where the world’s most emissions efficient food producing farming families are valued stewards of the land, biodiversity and cultural values are an asset, and farmers who foster environmental stewardship are acknowledged and supported rather than penalized?

Do we want a country where local decision making and democracy are paramount, with councils given the autonomy to make decisions and implement actions based on their own community’s needs? Or do we want a country increasingly controlled by the state with unworkable regulations and loss of personal freedoms?

While I have followed politics for many years, I have never been so moved to write about an election publicly.

In my various roles in local government, farming groups and now as Groundswell environmental spokesperson, I am aware of the impact of existing and future policies stemming from the current Labour/Greens government.

In my work as a conservationist and native restoration business the government policies currently being rolled out are delivering detrimental outcomes for our natural heritage – the worst since the development subsidies pre-1984.

This election is a turning point in our history.

And while the differences between the major political parties may not seem huge, the outcome will be.

I do not say it lightly; this election is about the survival of family farming, rural communities, natural heritage, respect for people and property, local decision making, and democracy.

Groundswells Drive 4 Change is about all of these. If you too care about these issues, then consider supporting our calls for changes to the unworkable regulations.

Check out our alternative solutions or read about The Groundswell Solution in my previous column.

And most of all make your October vote count.

by Jamie McFadden

Groundswell environmental spokes person